Integrated Therapy Online
Integrated therapy online from Lindsey Anderson Counselling. Lindsey is an English speaking counsellor for adults & adolescents, helping them rebalance, recover and move forward. Here she talks to mumAbroad about an integrated approach to counselling which enables her to create a personalised therapy thats unique and right for each client.
Lindsey Anderson Counselling
You have over 20 years experience working for the United Nations and other international organisations in counselling, communication and training. How has that experience helped you in your private practice?
I think because I’ve experienced the down right good, bad and ugly of personal and professional life, I can relate to what people are going through across a range of life’s situations.
I’ve lived in different countries as a working mum but also as a stay at home mum and worked in international organisations that demand so much from you that you can hardly say your name by the end of the week never mind think about the school bake sale. Then, on the opposite side of the coin, being a stay at home mum getting comfortable or not with your new role in the couple, navigating new friendships and an identity for yourself, battling the awkwardness when you can’t really be your full self with language barriers even to the point that entering the new school playground feels like a mine field.
Having been through this personally helps me daily across my counselling work and with the professional background of communication and training, I’m able to communicate that to clients simply and help them in some way re-train their emotional brains differently to cope and manage.
You use an integrated approach to counselling. What does that mean exactly?
An integrated approach uses several different counselling techniques so that the client experiences a therapy programme which best suits them. In essence, by combining different techniques I am able to tailor make a personalised counselling programme for the client, tapping into what they need and not being restrained by following one method.
I find some clients get stuck when trying to talk or describe their feelings so I will use drawing or body/ sensation techniques, others may have emotions related to something in their childhood which they cannot access so I will use old photographs to unlock the emotions or some others may be locked into negative beliefs about themselves so I will select cognitive behavioural techniques and homework to help them re-set the negative narrative.
Why do you find this approach particularly useful?
This is particularly useful as it gives me the possibility to fully adapt to the needs and preferences of the client, allowing me to offer a range of techniques that work best for them rather than sticking to one method or school of thought. Ultimately, the client has a tailor made personalised therapy experience using the tools and techniques across counselling disciplines that work best for them.
As we are all unique individuals, I don’t think one size of therapy fits all, so that’s why I choose to work with a combination of therapy techniques. It allows the client and I to really explore, connect and tap into the therapeutic relationship more deeply, resulting in a greater chance of lasting change and inner peace.
What would a client expect from a first session?
For some people just making the appointment to talk to a counsellor can be daunting so in the first session is about getting to know the person gently, helping them feel comfortable and at ease.
Usually, during the first session, I’ll spend some time asking background questions about the client’s life story before moving on to why they have come for counselling, the main struggles and challenges. We may also talk about what they want to achieve from counselling, how they would like the sessions to work as well any questions they may have about me.
Generally, the first stages of counselling are about understanding the clients’ story and building trust and confidence between us. We’ll explore their thoughts, feelings and behaviours discovering and uncovering past and present, gaining greater insight about what is causing them distress.
During these sessions, I may work with the client by simply listening, other times, I may gently ask questions or draw upon a tool or technique to help guide them I may also ask them to notice the sensations and emotions in their body.
As we go further with our sessions, we may find patterns emerge which signpost the cause of the suffering or things they hadn’t even remembered will crop up. With time, we’ll gradually build a picture about these triggers, unhelpful thoughts and emotions.
You have a particular interest in women’s issues. How much do you draw on your own experiences as a mother, daughter, working mum, stay at home mum, wife etc. when counselling?
All of these experiences are in my blood and part of me so I draw upon them daily, they help me connect and relate to every client in different ways. It’s very natural for me to be able to empathise and draw upon my experience to try and help the client. I never say, “Do this or do that, it worked for me”, it’s more of a gentle probing, exploring, expanding, suggesting and guiding approach I take. Unless of course I’m asked, “Lindsey, tell me what to do,” but then again that rarely works either as each individual will do what they want to do in the end!
With my personal experience of the difficulties and painful emotions, I hope I can bring a depth of empathy, understanding and hope to everyone I work with.
Family relocation can be a time of upheaval and mixed emotions. How might you be able to help a mum struggling with this type of transition?
So often we have to keep so much to ourselves for fear of offending, being a burden or being judged so just talking to me is the first important step to take.
I would use a mix of talking therapy so that the client has breathing space to express how she feels with a more solution focussed approach so that she has some practical solutions to put in place. The two approaches would work together giving the client the balance of emotional expression and exploration with practical actions. Such actions could include joining an English speaking group of potential friends, a language class, a mums abroad group, getting involved in the school, pursuing activities that she’s always wanted to do but has never had the time, finding meaning and purpose in some kind of professional or community work.
How different is online therapy compared to face to face therapy and does one work better than the other?
It really depends! The beauty of online counselling is that it is more accessible to more people who may not otherwise have considered counselling and it offers more immediate and practical access to therapy anywhere and anytime which face to face does not.
I find I am able to use all of the techniques online that I use face to face but there are some limitations in terms of depth and presence. For example, with deeper visualisation and body/sensation work, this can be done online but it does not translate fully as I really need to be in the room with the client for them to feel the full effect of this work.
For more short term, first level issues, therapy online works very well, for more long term and complex issues, face to face is preferable.
What do you love about your work?
I love making the deeper one to one connection with people, hearing their stories, helping them feel better in themselves, helping them find relief, helping them towards greater self understanding and helping them find hope and strength to move forward more positively.